Interview with Masami Okui (JAM PROJECT)

Translation by: Saori Himei
Translation check by: Ryu & Tulip

※Please do not translate this interview into a different language or share this interview without written permission.

Masami Okui, thank you very much for accepting this interview.

— Please tell us how you stepped into the music industry.

Around 1990~1991 I did a chorus audition and got accepted to be in the back chorus of the actress Yuki Saito. (It was the same timing as when I moved from Tokyo to Osaka.)

— We have been facing covid-19 for more than a year now. How do you look back at this year?

Although it is very hard and inconvenient, it wasn’t too bad. On the contrary, it made me realize that what we do in our daily life is very precious for us and that it’s not something to be taken for granted. That there isn’t a “normal” life, that everything can be changed. I hope the world finds a way back to normality and that the coronavirus gets under control. Also I would like to do my best to live to the fullest every single day.

— Could you please give a message to your fans around the world who are confronting covid-19.

Now, I assume that all countries are facing a difficult challenge, but I will do my best to make everyone enjoy themselves through anime songs with JAM Project which I am also a member of. Also, I hope the day comes where we can go and travel freely as before. Please take a good rest and take care of yourself.

You recently released your album 11-elevens-

— What was the biggest inspiration for creating 11-elevens-?

I would say it is Two-sided, such as light and darkness, white and black, good and bad, Yin and Yang that exist in the world (also in humans).

— Please tell us about your enthusiasm for the 11-elevens- live tour scheduled to be held this May.

Although there are restrictions, it’s been a long time since I could enjoy a live show together with my fans. I would like to create a stage full of energy to charge-up all the energy of everyone coming to my show and showcase my own energy too.

— You also release your music as JAM Project (members; Hironobu Kageyama, Hiroshi Kitadani, Endoh Masaaki and Yoshiki Fukuyama) What is the difference between this solo album 11-elevens- and the releases you release with JAM Project?

JAM Project music is full of passion. It’s intense, hot, masculine ROCK music. Therefore I would add an essence of my own soft and feminine part for my solo works. I think you would understand if you listen to my songs, and you will totally notice the difference among the contents of lyrics, music making etc. As for myself, I maintain a balance between my yin and yang through my solo activity and JAM Project (smile)

— The 2nd track 「Civil war-1vs1-」 is written by visual kei star JUN (from GOTCHAROCKA). What’s the reason why he was allowed to write a track for you?

The member who plays Bass for my solo at my live shows is a support member of GOTCHAROCKA. Once when I went to a live show of them, I learned about JUN and his guitar skills. Since then, I’ve been thinking that I could ask him to create a song for me someday♫ .

— The 3rd track 「Blood Blade -光と闇の彼方に-」 was written for the game “Langrisser Re:Incarnation -Tensei-”. Are lyrics written differently if they are written for a game or anime?

Yes. Without fail, I read playbooks, see story boards, and refer to the existing documents related to them as much as possible. I capture the vision of the view, then I compose songs and write lyrics when it comes to the main theme songs of the game and anime. I always focus on grasping and understanding anime and game’s pieces.

— Please highlight the songs of 『11-elevens-』 and write some self-liner-notes about the songs you wish to share details on.

01_) 「プライベートヒロイン-OTAKATSUDAYS-」
JAM Project has an image of rock I guess, however, I wrote about myself while I was watching a Korean drama series. I reckon everyone has favorite celebrities, foods and anime characters that everyone is attracted to. I made this song with a feeling that our favorite ones are precious even in this pandemic.

02_) 「Civil war-1 vs 1」
The melody of this song is my favorite. It also includes my favorite guitar solo. This song’s lyrics are, regardless of the pandemic, not about corona. But I wrote my feelings of what I felt by watching society. I myself love spiritual kinds of things and study it every now and then. I expressed myself fighting the darkness and brightness (struck by the devil) inside me.

03_) 「Blood Blade〜光と闇の彼方に〜」
This song was the only existing song on the album since it was the theme song of the game called “Langrisser Re:Incarnation Tensei“.
Coincidentally, this song color matched the theme of this album, “Light and Darkness”. Back then when I wrote this song, after I’d read the story of the game, thoughts flew through my mind such as “ How do you use the “power” that you have in yourself? I’ve put my sense of “how to use that power” and how to “become light” into this song.

04_) 「天使と悪魔」
This is about men who are very attractive to women, I would also be able to say it is the same for men who are deceived by little evil women who are attractive and who tell a lie easily. However, the essence of darkness and devil kind of atmosphere could be popular elements for both sexes, I made this song with the essence implying such situations we happen to be in is kind of paradise.

05_) 「コトノハ」
It is a song that feels emotional with the sound of piano and raw real sounding strings of a guitar. It’s about a man feeling regretful since his ex-girlfriend is happy now with her new boyfriend. It is a song about a feeling of regret such as; “Back then why couldn’t I tell true feelings to her…”

06_) 「21世紀サバイバー」
It’s a song I requested Hironobu Kageyama to create. He made it for me with melody, chords and rhythm in a simple way. So I was wondering what to do with the arrangement. Since I like K-POP, I asked him to make the song danceable and so I could arrange the song. And so I decorated and arranged the simple song which Kageyama created by adding my own chorus and harmony to the song on my own. Into the lyrics I’ve put the essence of the feeling of “wishing to survive this pandemic!” into the song. Also I’ve put a gimmick to JAM Project movie “GET OVER※” into the lyrics to synchronize it.

(※JAM PROJECT first MOVIE Project Documentary which was released earlier this year)

Kitadani-kun composed this song. The arrangement is with the image of the demo. The lyrics are ironic, imagining the future surveillance society by AI. “We need to make things done perfectly, otherwise, whatever happens we don’t mind even though it’s wrong, isn’t it?” It’s written with something like that in my mind (smile). I like to read topic books, that kind of cover about conspiracy theories and urban legends (smile), therefore, I wrote about it like that.

08_) 「秋桜」
I made this song while I was playing the piano, I decided to keep the piano tune in the beginning as if it was like an introduction. Currently I feel that there are many people who cut out their own future by themselves and when I watched the news about this pandemic, I was able to create this song. I described the feeling of the people who remained. The feeling they have to live with regret and also I would like them to live.

09_) 「Sylphide」
The title means “The spirits of winds”. The melody Fukuyama made had a kind of Beatles-like and masculine-like feeling, so I asked him to arrange it in a fragile and feminine style. The motif is “mermaid”. A mermaid falls in love, and even if she loses her voice, she gets legs to meet her prince, however she couldn’t fulfill her feelings and turned into foam. After this happened I heard that there is a theory that she became a spirit of the winds. It makes me feel that she’s happy to be a spirit of the winds. So I wrote the lyrics with the hope that she will live freely forever.

10_) 「Beautiful Life」
After I saw the news, news about things such as the air pollution and garbage in the sea had reduced, I wrote this song with my feelings. Furthermore, I also noticed that by staying at home, people had the time to spend “spare time” with their family and doing stuff like cooking and other things together. So I also added those feelings inside this song.

11_) 11、「手をつないで」
Finally, I made this song since I wanted to make a song such that everyone can hold their hands and sing together. This tune is also conscious of the pandemic, I want to say “we are connected to each other, you’re not alone” to all those who feel lonely. When we’re looking at the sky and clouds, I think we are all connected and I do not want people to feel alone and lonely. That is why I made this song to be sung in this way.

— The song arrangement of this album is created together with various persons. What’s the reason why you worked together with various people?

I create all kinds of songs, so it depends. I ask an arranger who fits a song the best to arrange it as perfectly as possible.

— Which song do you recommend the most on this album? And why so?

I would like to recommend all of the songs…(smile) However I would say “秋桜 (Kosumosu (cosmos))”. It is a song about a loved one who committed suicide and this person loved the flower cosmos. I’ve heard a lot of stories in the news that there were many people who committed suicide (in Japan) and this pandemic made it even more worse. It’s a true tragedy, however the people who remained, such as families and friends, need to live positively and move forward with their sadness. So, I made this song with the essence of my wish that I would like them to live and survive with the circumstances. First of all, I would like them to cherish their own lives, and I put the emotion to the song.

— Which song has your favorite lyric? and why so?

This is also “秋桜” with the previous reason.

— What was the intention behind the design of the album jacket for “11-elevens-“?

It represents 11=1 and1, two-faces and Yin and Yang.

— You have been playing various lives overseas, but how was your impression? Also What are your best memories?

In Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, I felt that there was a very unique up-tempo and original cheerfulness (smile). As for the chorus in the venues, I found Korean fans screamed the loudest. In the old days, when I performed a live show in Beijing for the first time, I felt the audiences were so shy and very quiet, but then they became slowly so cheerful with happy faces, then I watched them crying by being impressed, I cried in sympathy as well, and it was a great memory for me.

— Please tell us your future goals.

I am not thinking so straightforwardly. I imagine that I would be happy if I could sing for a long time in good health. I believe in living my days as if it’s my last, while doing the things I can do now, living like this will be my future by cherishing everyday and living day by day.

— Please give a message to your fans and readers.

I assume these hard days might continue, whenever you are, let’s live life to the fullest and do what we can do for the better with each other! And if possible, please listen to my music♫ (solo & JAM Project)

We came to the end of the interview, thank you very much again!

Masami Okui was held to coincide with the release of the new album for the first time in three years.
“Masami Okui NEW ALBUM” 11-elevens- “release commemorative live 1 vs 1 ~ be the light ~” archive delivery! !!
Let’s all get excited together, whether you saw it locally or not!

■ Live title
“Masami Okui NEW ALBUM” 11-elevens- “Release Commemorative Live 1 vs 1 ~ be the light ~”

■ Scheduled delivery date and time
June 20, 2021 (Sun) 19: 00-

■ Appearance
Masami Okui

■ Band members
Guitar: Jun Yamazaki / Guitar: IMAJO /BASS: TABOKUN / Key & MP: Jun Imai / Drums: Ryoichi Kikushima

■ Delivery ticket fee
6,600 yen (tax included)
Supports credit cards, online banks, pay-easy, convenience store payments, and Amazon Pay

■ Missed delivery (archive)
From the end of live delivery until 23:59 on June 27


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